Monday, July 30, 2012

Nice People - Fans

Yikes!  Last post was last Tuesday.  This blogger is getting lazy.  My goal is three posts per week but I'll settle for two in the off-season.  I've been working on profiles - interviewing interesting players so you can get to know them better than just a jersey number on the field.  Profiles take time.  

So between profile posts I should just do some fun but quick and easy posts.  Like featuring fans.  Today I browsed my fan photos from one game, the Houston game.  I wonder if the fans know about the blog?  I wonder if they ever realize I have made them Internet celebrities.  I wonder if they'd mind being in the blog if they did know?

If you know any of the fans in today's post, please give them the link.

So what do you think?  Is he sitting in seat #16?  or #18? 
Something about him gives me the sense he is a VIP.  Maybe
a corporate executive or something. 
Fan photos are interesting to me for a variety of reasons.  Some are just interesting individuals. 

I like the beard.  And the leather hat.  Somehow I imagine
him involved the the sea, maybe a retired ship captain.

Friends of a player?  Relatives of a player?  I
don't think they look old enough to be parents. 
There are lots of couples.  I wonder if they're wife and husband, dating, siblings.  What brings them to the Outlaws game?  Are they relatives of one of the players?  Serious football fans?  I'll never know.

I think they could be parents of one of the players.  They're
younger than I but still old enough to be parents.  I don't
have a clue about which player(s) they favor. 

Some fan photos make the blog because I just like the way
the fans look.  This couple appear to be nice people.  Don't
you think? 

I have a lot of fun shooting groups of fans.  Sometimes they see the camera pointing their way and pose...

I may have used another version of this photo in another post.  Hope you don't mind. 
Outlaws games are fun.  Fans have fun.  Fans add to the fun.  If you haven't been
attending the games, watch for next season's schedule and come on down.  These
are six witnesses to tell you it is a great way to spend a Saturday evening.

And sometimes they don't notice me because they're doing what fans are supposed to do, cheering for the team. 

I love catching fans in mid-cheer.  A couple observations for you to contemplate.  First, I never point
my camera at the fans when there is action on the field.  So these fans are cheering while nothing
is happening.  Well, at least no football play is happening.  I wonder if I'm missing something by
viewing the fans instead of the field.  A second profound observation is for anyone who
has tried photography.  When there are multiple subjects - in this case four young ladies - there
are multiple opportunities to get at least one with a pose out of sync with the rest.  Whenever
I shoot a group and all of them look great, I'm proud.  Or shocked that I got it right.

Or cheering for a specific player.  I suspect most of the fans cheer for a favorite player or two.  But I never know for certain which player.  Well, unless the fan is carrying a sign.  

Fans of Megan Riley, #19.

There are a few signs at Outlaws games.  Normally I can tell what the sign is about.  In the photo above, it is obvious the fans are cheering for Megan "Red" Riley, #19.  But some of the signs...

Now please understand, I'm older than you.  With age we tend to slow down a little.  And we get out of touch with the current generation. 

I'm about to admit ignorance.  I'm asking you to explain the sign to me.  Please be nice.  If the meaning is obvious, if you can't imagine anyone would have trouble figuring it out, just remember, I could be your father.  Your grandfather even. 

I don't understand this sign.  Can you explain it to me?

So what does it mean, this "What Time is it"?  I remember a television show that opened with that question and the answer was "Tool Time."  Somehow that doesn't fit the football game setting.  So I'm asking your help.  Please explain the sign to me. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Before the Game

I arrive at the stadium about an hour before game time.  The Outlaws arrive a full three hours early.  I don't know what they do in the two hours before I get there but I do have some photos of that last hour.  Here's a little of what goes on before the game.

Shadana Hurd, former player, now volunteer worker.
Like volunteers arriving.  Like Shadana Hurd, former star and now volunteer.  I don't know her job during the game but she must have one because she's carrying a clipboard.  Looks serious, doesn't she.  Camera trick.  Shadana is always smiling or laughing and never serious.

And Alex Allen, another former player who is a volunteer. Don't tell anyone - I think it is a secret - she is Outlaw Annie. See the big sack she's carrying. That's Outlaw Annie apparel. In her other hand she has a sack of food and a soda. Being a mascot takes lots of energy.

Alex Allen, former player, now
Outlaw Annie
In my normal fashion I cannot remember the name of this volunteer. And I certainly don't remember her job at the game. This in spite of sitting with her on the bench watching pre-game activities. You can tell she did arrive and it was before the game started.

Somebody tell me her name and what her
volunteer role is.  So embarrassing the way
I don't remember important stuff.

I do know this volunteer's name. She is Dr. Tara Morris, the Team Trainer/Doctor. We always hope she won't have much to do at these games but football is a collision sport and sometimes medical care is needed. I can't recall the last time I've heard a public address voice ask "Is there a doctor in the house?" At Outlaws games the answer is yes.
Dr. Tara Morris, team trainer and doctor.

I'm going to post a couple photos and see if you can figure out the theme.  When I browsed my collection for before-the-game shots, I was initially stumped by these.  But then I remembered.  Hint:  The photos would make immediate sense if they included an audio track.

That's coach Bobbie with hand in the air.  She has noticed
something that coach Lance hasn't.  But you can see
he is getting some vibes.

Coach Lance joining Bobbie in the raised hands thing, while
others are taking notice.  What do you think is going on?

Figure it out yet?  They're dancing!  And why dance before a football game?  Because the public address guy is testing the equipment and blasting "music" for all to hear and some to enjoy. 

Everybody dance!  Come on Lucky, join the party.

Serious dancing going on here.

So before the game we have people testing the sound system and other people helping the testers by dancing.  We have volunteers arriving to help make the Outlaws a success. 

What are the players doing in this, their third hour, at the stadium?  Stretching.

Touch the left toe, then the right...

Bend that leg back, left first, pull on it, stretch those muscles.

Actually they've been going through pre-game warm-ups.  I don't get many photos of that because I get bored watching people doing exercises.  In fact, it is surprising I have these shots of the stretching. 

I do have a question.  In Austin, the temperature at game time is in the nineties.  That's warm.  Why would anyone have to "warm up" in that kind of heat?

There's a lot to do to put on a football game.  A lot of work.  A lot of coordination.  I have often expressed in this blog my admiration of Lily Messina.  She is team founder and has been officially the General Manager until she handed that title to someone else.  Now she coaches and she still makes things happen. 

Just a few minutes before the game starts the officials show up on the field.  In a future blog post I'm going to tell you all about officiating a football game. 

Actually there are six officials.  The sixth is time keeper and this close to kickoff he
is up in a control booth.

When an official is heading toward the field, when the scoreboard shows 0-0 with 15:00 minutes to play in the first quarter, you know the game is about to begin. 

I always love the countdown to kickoff. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dallas Diamonds Eliminated; Amazing!

(Note:  The Dallas Diamonds photos posted today are taken from their game at Austin this season, not from the playoff game in San Diego.)

Well, I predicted the Dallas Diamonds would defeat the San Diego Surge in their semi-final game yesterday (Saturday, July 21).   Statistically, they looked to me to have the edge - see my post And Now There are Four.  But statistics are difficult to read because teams play in different divisions with different levels of competition. The league seeded San Diego above the Dallas and that turned out to be right.

The final score Saturday was San Diego 56, Dallas 29.  Remarkable.  Dallas has been totally dominating all opponents, averaging 70+ points per game and giving up only 7.  Who would imagine anyone would hold them to 29 and score 56 against them? 

The other winner in Saturday's semi-final games was the Chicago Force, winning 35-34 over the Boston Militia.  

Rubi Reyna said in her profile published in this blog last week Outlaw  "Offense sells tickets, defense wins ballgames."  The outcome of this season supports her comment. 

Defense wins ballgames.  Dallas had a great defense.
The two teams who will play in the championship game led the league in defense - the Surge was number one allowing only 2 points per game and the Force number two allowing 6 points per game.  It is a compliment to the Diamonds that they scored 29 against the number one defense in the WFA.  The Diamonds ranked number three on defense, allowing 7 points per game.

Dallas offense was the best in the league this season.
On offense, the Diamonds, Force, Surge, and Militia respectively ranked one through four in points scored.   So the teams who did best during the season are the teams who survived to the semi-finals.  No big surprise there.   

The top seeded teams, who had home field advantage, won all of the playoff games.  Which suggests either the seeding was quite accurate or home field advantage really is significant. 

The season now comes down to one game, the San Diego Surge versus the Chicago Force.   I'm reluctant to select a winner but I can't resist.  Neither team will have a home field advantage because the game will be played at a neutral site.  Through the season, Chicago ranked ahead of San Diego on offense - the two teams finished  second and third with Chicago scoring 56 points per game and San Diego 54.

On defense, San Diego led the league allowing 2 points per game.  Chicago was second allowing 6. 

In their semi-final games, San Diego won decisively (56-29) over a strong Dallas team.  Chicago edged out a slightly less impressive Boston team (35-34). 

Now you know as much as I do about the final game.  I'm picking San Diego.  Because they ranked higher on defense - Rubi is right, defense wins ballgames, and because they defeated a great Dallas team.  If they can beat the Diamond, they can beat anyone.

If you'd like to do your own analysis, check out the Women's Football Alliance website and in particular study the statistics section.  It is interesting.

The final game will be played August 4 at the home field of the Pittsburgh Steelers and will be televised on ESPN 3.  You can get details on the WFA website (link above).

Cookie will agree, the Dallas defense was outstanding in 2012.

  Let's congratulate the Diamonds. I found them to be a class group of athletes and an outstanding football team.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ten Billion Pictures

I browsed my Outlaw's photos and selected a few to post today for your enjoyment.  First, though, I'd like to talk a little about being a photographer these days. is a photo-sharing website.  Anyone who makes photos can get an account with and post your work there for anyone else to see.  Right now there are more than ten billion photographs on Photobucket.  That's billions.  A billion is a thousand million.  Unless you're talking about government spending, a billion is a big number. 

I believe Photobucket is the biggest photo-sharing site.   I think is most popular among serious photographers. It has five billion photos. has been around awhile and has 693 million photos as of 10:00 a.m. today.  There are many others. I use ( I don't know how many photos are stored there but I have about 5,000 and I'm just one not-very-serious photographer.

I'm not that good a photographer.  It would be cool if
I had planned this effect, sharp focus on the player in the
foreground, fuzzy on my friend Tiffany.  There  must be some
grand philosophical point, the vague threats we face that may
become pain and frustrate our goals.
Everyone who has a cell phone has a digital camera.  With digital photography, there's no downside to making pictures.  In the old days we had to buy film and pay for processing.  I used to shoot a couple hundred photos at Outlaws games and it cost around $100.  Now I shoot 700 photos and it doesn't cost a thing. 

When I started this hobby I envisioned gaining great wealth in an after-retirement career as a photographer.  I'd shoot great action sports photos and sell them to magazines, newspapers, fans, players.  

As it turns out, that wasn't a really good business plan. 

First, people aren't buying "prints" - photos printed on paper.  They're enjoying on-line viewing.  They have billions of photos to view in all those photo-sharing sites.  Most on-line photos are free to view, easy to download to your own computer, can be stored on IPhones.  Why buy prints?  I've sold a few prints but not enough to even recoup the cost of film and processing from my film-camera years. 

The second problem with my business plan, I'm not all that terrific a photographer.  I get some good shots.  If I shoot 700 pictures with a decent camera I'm bound to get "some" good ones.  Some good ones.  Fewer "great" ones.  Even these good to great aren't finding buyers. 

So instead of selling photos I browse my collection for my own enjoyment.  I use Photoshop Elements and zoom in, zoom out, crop and cut, make lighter, make darker.  Just enjoying the action on the field in freeze-frame, in detail, days, weeks, months later.  From all of this browsing I find photos I like.  And I'm posting some here on the chance you'll like them, too. 

Why do I like "these" photos?  Well, I'll explain how I selected the ones posted today. 

I like the photos in the first series for a couple reasons.  One is my friend Tiffany "Crash" James is in them.  She is my kinda player.  Intense.  I always like it when I capture her making the play.  She wears jersey number forty-one and red sleeves.  The red sleeves help me find her even when she is at the bottom of a pile of players. 

It is difficult to make truly elegant tackles in a football game.  I like the inelegant tackles.  Like when you grab an ankle and hold on.  I love players who do whatever it takes.  Tiffany is such a player.  As illustrated in the three-photo sequence that follows. 

Tiffany grabbing a leg because that's all she can reach..

Tiffany hangs on while teammates close in on the runner.
It is difficult to run dragging a 135 pound Outlaw.

Tiffany used to have a bad habit of allowing the runner
come down on top of her.  She avoided that in this case.

The three photos that follow illustrate two reasons certain photos make me smile.  One  is stopping action in mid-air.  In the first photo of the following photos, Outlaw's number one, Toni Fuller, makes a leaping tackle.  And I have captured her in flight.  Cool.

Flying through the air, grabbing the runner.  Note the people
on the sideline.  A camera lady is missing the shot - I'm getting
it.  Even photographers are competitive.  Notice the guy with
paper in his hand, smiling.  His runner is being tackled.
Why does that make him smile?

When Toni gets hold of you you're finished.

Toni completes the tackle bringing the runner to the turf.  Cool.  But there's something else I enjoyed in this photo and that's sideline reaction.  You can see it a little in the second photo but just for fun I used my photo editor to focus in on the sideline faces.  That's the photo below.

Football can be confusing sometimes.  There are all sorts of individual battles going on.  Sometimes it is difficult to determine exactly who is on first.

 I use photos like this to cull photos of individual players so when I want to profile a player I can quickly locate photos of her.  In this photo I have a good shot of #55, QT, doing battle with Mustang #60.  I have a sorta shot of #33, Tara Andrickson, but it would be better if she were already being engaged by the blockers.  The red sleeves tell me that's Tiffany right behind QT.  I can't get the number of the Outlaw far left.  I suspect somewhere there's a football in there somewhere, probably behind Mustang's #23 and #73.

Sometimes I point the camera to the stands and photograph fans.  When I see a fan carrying a camera I like to check out what kind of camera it is.  I'm a Nikon guy but there are lots of Canon people out there.  She has a Canon.

I wonder if she posts her photos on  I wonder if she just gives them away to the players, reducing my market.  Or is she a pro, selling photos for big bucks?  Does she have a business plan that is working?  Is she smarter than I am.  Nah, she's a girl, I'm a guy...

Can you see what it is like to be me?  Hundreds of photos, nay thousands.  Browsing, zooming, trying to capture a glorious instant from the game, pondering imponderables. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Profile - Rubi Reyna

Rubi Reyna
“Let me in the game; I can run on my left side…”

Third quarter in the last game of a disappointing season.  Rubi Reyna lands hard on her right elbow.  Team trainer Dr. Tara Morris decides this is more than just a stinger and tells Rubi she is finished for the game.  Rubi objects, tries to get back in, says she can protect the damaged right elbow.  “I can run on my left side.”

Dr. Morris prevails.  And was right.  Rubi had a hairline fracture. 

Rubi is the Outlaws most intriguing rookie.  She is quiet, unemotional, calm.  Well, she seems quiet,  unemotional,  and calm.  Put a helmet on her, send her into the game, and she becomes a totally different person.  “I go into my beast mode.”  It wouldn’t go well to be a beast off the field. 

Coach recognized Rubi's athletic talent, named her
one of the Outlaws quarterbacks.
Photo by MaryLou Spence
A clue about the real Rubi was Coach Mo selecting her as quarterback.  He had watched her running routes and then throwing the ball and he saw she was something special.  Quarterback is the key position on the team.  She is the first to touch the ball on every offensive play. 

She has to have athletic skill and an understanding of the game.  Rubi has both.
Athletic skill – she says “sports is a big part of my life.”   She participated in sports from age four.  In middle school she played softball all year, plus volleyball, basketball, and track.  In high school she played varsity softball, basketball, and volleyball.  She gave up track because it conflicted with softball.  People told her she couldn’t play because she was small  – 5’2” – but she was quick and athletic.

Her senior year year high school softball team made the regionals and ended one run short of state. She was so good at softball that she was recruited as catcher and given a full scholarship to Barton Community College in Great Bend, Kansas.  We’re talking  fast-pitch softball like what you see on ESPN in the spring.  Rubi played catcher her first year there and then shortstop.  She had a .345 batting average and hit five homers – to the chagrin of critics who “said I was too tiny.” 

Ruby fighting for more yardage, demonstrating athletic
skill as she refuses to go down easily.
Photo by MaryLou Spence
She has the athletic skill. 

And she has the intelligence for understanding the game.

She got outstanding grades at Barton Community College and exchanged her athletic scholarship for a full academic scholarship that paid all of her college expenses. 

An injury interrupted her college athletic career – her deltoids detached from the bone and had to be repaired surgically – and she returned to her home in Corpus Christi where she enrolled in Texas A&M and earned her BS in Education.  She plans to teach Science next year.

She took a year off and moved to Austin in June of 2011.  She said living in Corpus has it ups and downs.  It is great living near the coast until a hurricane is coming, then “it is like walking on broken glass.”  She came to Austin because of greater opportunities here than in Corpus.  She applied everywhere for a job and now works at Dick Sporting Goods because it is close to home and she loves sports.

Rubi grew up in Sinton, Texas, north of  Corpus Christi, with two brothers and two sisters.  And a lot of cousins.  Now her biggest boosters, her boy cousins used to allow her to play football with them on the streets.  It was touch but they played aggressively and sometimes “they’d push me into cars.”  They were all four to five years older than Rubi and they had a rule:  “If I cried I was banned and could never play again.”

Rubi demonstrating her awareness of the game,
finding an escape route as would-be tackler pursues.
Photo by MaryLou Spence
She loves football and has a good understanding of the game.  She is a big fan of certain Dallas Cowboys – but not Tony Romo because “he folds under pressure.”  She loves Jason Witten because “he is a great player but not a showboat”, rather a family man and regular guy.  She likes Demarcus Ware because of the way he can get to the quarterback.  And she likes the Saints’ Drew Brees because he excels in spite of being small and people said he couldn’t make it. 

She knows all about being small and still being good.  She says her brothers play well and we all have a passionate heart.  When somebody tells us we’re tiny and can’t do it we do it.” 

Rubi says she plays with all her heart because of  her mom.  My mom is my inspiration, hero, and someone I look up too.   She passed away four years ago but I know she is the Outlaws biggest fan.  She told me ‘if you’re going to do something make sure your put everything into it.’” 

Rubi following inspirational advice from her mom
and putting everything into carrying the ball.
Photo by MaryLou Spence
Rubi heard about the Outlaws and connected with the team via the Internet.  People told her “you’re too tiny, going to get hurt” and she replied she was going to prove them all wrong.  At 5’2” tall and 130 pounds, Rubi is small for football. This blog featured her in a recent post in a size comparison with Maile Capers-Cristobal, the largest Outlaw. 

Photographic size comparisons don’t capture the size of the heart or spirit. 
Well, maybe photographs do capture something of the internal strength.  MaryLou Spence is the Outlaws team photographer.  She provided most of the photos included with this post.  Rubi doesn’t look small in these photos, does she? 

Rubi the running back.
Photo by MaryLou Spence
Rubi was tagged as quarterback early and shared that role with Marisa “Cookie” Rivas.  When coach asked Rubi to work at running back, she accepted the challenge.  Good running backs are also good blockers.  Rubi is a good running back.   

Good running backs are good blockers.  Even when
the opponent is larger.  Rubi made the block in this play.

As the season progressed she was given the opportunity to play defense.  Often playing both offense and defense in the same game (which was fine with her, “I love being on the field").  She admits she likes defense a little better and quoted a sports truism:  offense sells tickets, defense wins ballgames.

Rubi admits to liking defense maybe a little more than offense.  Here she is driving
the runner out of bounds on a good one-on-one tackle.
Photo by MaryLou Spence

Rubi keeps in shape working out at her apartment complex gym and has a regular schedule focusing some days on legs and lower body, others on cardio and upper body. 

A real competitor, Rubi celebrates a score. 
"How many girls can say I scored a touchdown?"
Photo by MaryLou Spence
She says she is competitive and this was a difficult year.  But “the entire season we made progress.”  She predicts a better season next year.  I feel sorry for the other teams.”
I asked if she has any closing comments.  She said " I just want thank the  sponsors,  the fans, all the donors, coaches, mom outlaw, and volunteers. Without ya'll we wouldn't have the outlaws"

She says she is honored to be part of the team.  “On and off the field we’re family.  We’re here for each other.  Love that about the team.”  And she loves being a football player. 

“How many girls can say I scored a touchdown.”

Friday, July 13, 2012

Maine Jackson

Intimidating, isn't she?
Her name is Maine.  She is on the Outlaws roster as Charmaine. 

She recently posted a photo of herself doing chin ups with a boy on her back.  I don't know his relationship - possibly son, possibly one of the children she works with at the Austin Children's Shelter.  I do chin ups (pull ups?) are difficult using just your own weight.  If you can do the chin up with 50 added pounds on you're back, you are strong. 

Maine is strong.  She works out. 

She made a devastating tackle in the Houston game (see my posting June 17).  I started checking my photos for #22 just to see if she's as good as the Houston tackle would suggest.  She is.  I'm posting here a couple examples.  Expect I'll do more in future posts.  These were culled from just two games in the 2012 season. 

The first is a five-photo series taken from the Dallas game.  In my July 8 posting I selected a photo from this series to show Dallas' #21 Tiffany Hill making a play.  That photo, the fourth in this five-photo series, was picked up by the Dallas team and by a publication in Dallas, "The Dallas Voice."  (I think that's the name of the publication.)  What I didn't show is the rest of the story, the Maine Jackson story.

Blocker seems to have Maine contained.  Nope.

Shaking off the blocker.

Solid hit.

Jackson hits Hill forcing her off her route.  See MaryLou
in the background recording the action.

Hill driven out of bounds by Jackson.
The second is a two-photo series (are two photos enough to call it a "series"?).  You can only fully appreciate this if you've played football and attempted to bring down a swift runner who is trying to get away.  The first shot has Maine in the backfield with Brittany Satterwhite, star running back for the Diamonds.  She has outstanding stats and is one of the best in the league and is part of the reason Dallas is going to San Diego Saturday and, if they win, going to the league national championship.  She doesn't often get caught in the backfield.  And she doesn't go down easily.

Jackson penetrates the backfield and now just has to get
close to Satterwhite. 

Charmaine extending with power.  The next photo has Satterwhite on the turf.

The final photo of Maine is really a photo of the Houston blocker who is supposed to keep Jackson away from the ball carrier.  I just like the expression on her face.  Wonder if Maine is saying anything?  Or just putting on that serious face you saw at the top of this posting.
Houston Power player wondering if she is up to the job of blocking Maine Jackson.